Today Microsoft celebrates the International Mother Language Day alongside UNESCO, with the goal to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism across the world. Advancements in technology to support and preserve languages create greater awareness of the linguistic and cultural traditions celebrated throughout the world, which in turn promote understanding,tolerance and dialogue.
With the proliferation of digital content on the web, mobile devices and desktop applications, there is an increasing demand to communicate and collaborate in multiple languages. Helping enable business, communities, and consumers to communicate and collaborate across language barriers through technology innovation is a core focus for the Microsoft Translator team.
Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of two new officially supported languages: Malay and Urdu. These two languages join the other languages already supported by the Microsoft Translator platform and Bing Translator. Malay is spoken by over 200M people worldwide in countries ranging from Malaysia to Brunei. Urdu is spoken by over 100M people worldwide and is spoken by large populations residing in the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and countries in Europe and North America. It is the national language of Pakistan, and the official language of several states in India.
A year ago, on the last International Mother Language Day, we announced the release of Hmong as part of a close engagement between Microsoft and the Hmong community - a small but significant step towards empowering businesses and organizations to tap into the power of Microsoft’s language technology. Like Hmong, the development of Urdu is the result of a community effort shepherded by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi, India) under the leadership of Dr.Girish Nath Jha, and Microsoft, utilizing the powerful Microsoft Translator Hub customization tools.
In addition to the launch of these new languages; we are also rolling out several new improvements to our platform, customization tools and language quality. See the release notes for this release in our forum here.
We have seen some great momentum with both the business and language communities for the Translator Hub. Through the Hub, users are able to bring better and specialized translation quality to established languages, as well as the many native languages of the world that are not yet supported by major translation providers which goes to the core of supporting the goals of Mother Language Day. Urdu is the latest language community benefiting from the availability of the Hub.
Developers and webmasters can begin leveraging these languages today on their sites by installing the Microsoft Translator Widget and users can utilize the collaborative features of the widget to provide alternate translations to improve the translation quality. Additionally, if you are passionate about the community development efforts around Urdu or other languages that we support and want to become involved in the efforts, please contact us.
Commemorating the International Mother Language Day, Microsoft Local Language Program (LLP), also announced the support of 13 extra languages to our range of Language Interface Packs (LIPs), bringing the total number of languages supported by Windows 8 and Office to 108. Learn more at the LLP web site.
- Vikram Dendi, Director of Product Management, Microsoft/Bing Translator
Hallo aus Berlin!
Thanks to the great feedback from the early adopters of the Microsoft Translator widget and APIs, we are pleased to remove the invite requirement and move the widget and APIs to public beta. Anyone can now generate a snippet for their site or application from the widget and AJAX API adoption portals.
Thank you for all those who attended today’s session at TechEd Europe. Here is a recap:
We also greatly appreciate all the great feedback on what languages you would like to see, and we hope to satisfy many of the requests within the next few months. Stay tuned and keep the feedback coming!
Let’s face it: customers appreciate simplicity. Nothing saves an angry customer from becoming an ex-customer like simple, seamless customer support. Savvy businesses offer up to a dozen contact channels to deliver support at the right time and place for a customer, but many are stymied by the complexity of providing this level of support for their entire customer base, and in a variety of different selling mediums. Consider the multi-lingual nature of North America alone. According to a recent survey, 30% of North Americans do not consider the English language as their native language. The number of limited English proficiency (LEP) individuals in the United States has also grown by 81 percent since 1990. Finally, nearly one in ten working-age U.S. adults—19.2 million persons aged 16 to 64—are considered limited English proficient. The complexity, customer service executives would say, is that they cannot possibly staff for support of all the languages of all their customers any given point. Another factor making effective customer service seemingly complex is the dynamic way customers can interact with service providers. This interaction is omni-channel, whereby customers can not only buy products from selling organizations, but also reverse direction and interact and provide feedback to that sell for all to see. This has put new pressure on sellers to quickly and effectively manage this interaction, or risk a hostile reputation. Indeed, according to Forrester Research, 67% of today’s Internet users would prefer to find (pre- and post- sales) answers online. Modern, simple customer support is dynamic – whether one to one contact channels like email ticketing and chat, communication takes place in near real time. Chat, for example, can be an effective way for customers to reach out to customer service representatives to have their issues resolved, and learn about new products. At the same time, technology has made it possible to allow customers to converse in their own native language, and provide the same capability for company representatives and other customer service staff. This is achieved by enhanced, personalized machine translation. As a result, multinational businesses – or even businesses with multilingual customer bases – can significantly broaden their reach, boost brand loyalty and cost-effectively support customers, regardless of language, location or device. Best of all, translation processes can be specially mindful of industry terms that need to be carefully translated, security concerns, and easy accessibility by both agent and consumer. Enhanced, personalized machine translation is definitely not as perfect as human translation. But that’s okay. What it does do is aide chat conversations that cannot wait for long-term translation perfection to be actionable, understandable, and immediate. When deploying machine translation in a support environment, organizations must consider:
This is the heart of what GeoFluent by Lionbridge does every day for all of our customers. As a result of our partnership with Microsoft Translator, we can help answer these challenges and make the customer service translation process simple, actionable, understandable, and immediate. Your customer base is only growing more diverse and channel-savvy. Providing simple, cost effective in language customer support is within your grasp. Please visit http://geofluent.lionbridge.com/ to learn how state of the art machine translation can make multilingual, multi-channel, customer support simple. By: Greg Belkin, Director of Product Marketing and Product Management, Lionbridge.
Team: Localization Tools and Services Solution: Readiness, Internal Communications, Customer Support The Localization Tools and Services team provides translation and localization services to a wide variety of business units throughout Microsoft. Focusing mainly on the localization of software user interfaces, they have localized software ranging from Universal Store apps to Microsoft OneDrive to Windows Azure. In order to provide faster turnaround for the business units they support, the team created an online agile localization application known as Reach. Reach allows translators and testers to localize content more quickly and with greater accuracy than with human translation alone. Reach integrates Translator's machine translation technology to deliver just-in-time translation results for translators and testers. The application also includes a downloadable tool that is able to insert translations into files, allowing users to have access to machine translation when working offline. "The MS Translator API was a straightforward way for us to quickly add valuable machine translation [MT] results to multiple stages of our localization workflow. The MS Translator service handles large translation volumes without any problem and can be easily customized to use different MT domains." - Andrew, Program Manager II, Localization Tools and Services
Read more Translator Solutions in Action at www.aka.ms/TranslatorSolutionsInAction
In our ongoing effort to empower language communities to preserve their languages and cultures, we are excited to introduce Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi to Microsoft Translator’s ever-growing list of supported languages. These language systems were developed in collaboration with community partners in Mexico, who created the automatic translations systems to permanently bridge the translation gap between these endangered languages and the rest of the world. The systems themselves were built using the Microsoft Translator Hub, a Translator product which is available for free to allow any group to create its own unique translation systems.
Using the Hub, our community partners took important steps to preserve their language and culture. The Yucatec Maya translation system was built by the Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQROO), a university in the southwestern Mexican state of Quintana Roo that was created to provide higher education to the Maya population of the region. Native to the Yucatan region of Mexico and Belize, Yucatec Maya is spoken by fewer than 800,000 people, with less than 59,000 monolingual speakers. The language is descended from the language of the ancient Mayan empire, which is well-known for its art, architecture, as well as its expertise in astronomy. The Querétaro Otomi language system was created by the Instituto Queretano de la Cultura y las Artes (IQCA), an institute in western central Mexico whose mission is to encourage artistic and cultural development and to promote equity and equality of opportunity within the State of Querétaro. Querétaro Otomi is an endangered language from the region that is only spoken by 33,000 people and has fewer than 2,000 monolingual speakers. The release of Maya and Otomi helps to celebrate the UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day, an annual international event which aims “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.” According to UNESCO, “if nothing is done, half of 6,000-plus languages spoken today will disappear by the end of this century.” Maya and Otomi are indigenous languages from Mexico which are both currently threatened. Although they are still in use, the number of speakers is decreasing and younger people are not speaking them as actively as their elders. The new automatic translation systems will help the Maya and Otomi people safeguard their language and culture for generations to come. Over the years, Translator has worked closely with a variety of language community partners to encourage language preservation and, through it, intercultural communication. In the past, these community partners have used the Hub to create translation systems for languages such as Hmong Daw, Welsh, and Urdu. The Hub allows organizations such as UIMQROO and IQCA to leverage the computing power of Microsoft Translator’s machine-learning back end as well as its existing translation models to create unique and customized translation systems. The Translator Hub is a powerful tool for organizations that have specific translation needs, such as language preservation. It also allows organizations to create domain-specific systems, including industry-specific translation systems (for instance, for the medical or financial sectors) and business-specific systems that are customized to the company’s internal style and terminology. In addition to the Hub, Translator also supports a wide variety of products to connect individuals across language barriers, including the Translator API, which can be used to translate web pages and apps in real time into 45+ languages, as well as powering the translation features in the Microsoft Office suite of products. Most recently, Microsoft Translator and Skype introduced Skype Translator, a next–generation speech-to-speech translation platform which allows users to converse in different languages in near-real time. To learn more about International Mother Language Day, and what Microsoft is doing to support technology on this front, please visit the Official Microsoft Blog. Learn More about the Translator Hub and Language Preservation: